BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Working Lunch  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Working Lunch Friday, 2 May, 2003, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Dressed for success
This wedding dress business has had its ups and downs
This wedding dress business has had its ups and downs

Running a small business might have ups as well as downs, but sometimes it can seem the world is against you.

No-one knows that better than Lisa Thomas.

She set up a bridal shop in Abergavenny three years ago, but within weeks a series of unexpected events was threatening its survival.

Lisa got the idea for AnnaLisa Brides & Maids while looking for her own wedding dress.

"I was fortunate in some ways to have redundancy money from my previous job and we had bank financing as well," she explains.

She rented a light and airy studio she'd had her eye on, bought in stock and was ready for business.

Lisa Thomas
Lisa Thomas

Problems

But just four months after opening, things started to take a turn for the worse.

In September 2000 came the petrol crisis.

Those who couldn't fill up stayed at home.

"Being quite a rural place, people were not making unnecessary journeys, so that affected us for a week or so," recalls Lisa.

Next, just weeks later, severe flooding hit Abergavenny, preventing customers from getting to the shop.

"The road was completely impassable, so there was only one way in and one way out of the town, so that affected us quite badly," she says.

No-go area

And then, two months later, foot and mouth broke out. Abergavenny became a no-go area.

"There were signs leading into the town saying you were entering a foot-and-mouth zone so it was quite daunting for people.

Wedding dress
AnnaLisa handles 100 weddings a year
"As a town, we were still all trading, but we were very quiet," remembers Lisa.

Compensation funds were set up to help businesses hit by foot-and-mouth, but getting the cash wasn't easy.

"They rejected us first of all because we were a new business and had no records to go by," she says.

Lifeline

Eventually, with the help of local Welsh Assembly member David Davies, she secured a total of 3,000.

It might not sound much, but for a small business, that kind of money can be the difference between staying afloat and going under.

"It was just one thing after another, but we've got over it all," says Lisa.

Survival

"We've survived."

AnnaLisa now handles about 100 weddings a year, with customers coming from all over the country.

The most expensive dress is about 1,200; the average spend is 750.

So has it all been worth it?

"It's a lot of hard work, lots of long hours," she admits.

"But at the end of the day you can sit back and be quite proud of what we've achieved."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Pittam
"In business, you should expect the unexpected"
Home
View latest show
About us
Consuming Issues
Rob on the road
Lunch Lessons
Guides & factsheets
Story archive
Names, numbers & links
Contact us

Watch us on BBC Two
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 12:30pm
Wednesday 1:30pm
Friday 12pm

RELATED LINKS

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Working Lunch stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes